16 Mar Is the Trend Towards Green Power Growth Going to Continue?
By Chip Wood | Green e
I was talking to a buddy in New York recently, and he asked me (like I’m the sage of the energy industry), “So whaddaya think, is everything going to dry up in the renewables space now that there’s a Republican President and Congress?”
“No,” I said, happily taking on the role of energy guru. “There’s too much proof that the growth of renewables has been good for the economy, good for jobs, and good for long-term costs to go backwards now.” Here’s why I think that:
Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s just-released 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook reports that energy efficiency programs and the enormous increase in renewables had a profound impact on the U.S. grid between 2011 to 2016. Significantly, over the same period energy use declined 3.6% while the overall GDP went up by 12%. In addition, the overall price of electricity, driven mostly by reductions within the competitive markets, declined 3.9%, led by Texas where consumers paid a whopping 15% less in 2016 than previous years.
And what an increase it was. Wind and solar capacity increased over 600% from 16 GW to 123 GW, and wind power became the 4th largest source after natural gas, coal, and nuclear. Including hydropower, renewables now provide over 22% of energy needs in the U.S. (244 GW). In addition, jobs in wind and solar continue to increase. The solar energy industry now employs more than 260,000 workers in the U.S., a 24.5% increase over last year. In addition, the American wind power industry supported over 88,000 jobs at the start of 2016—an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.
So, if that’s clean energy’s past, what is its future? Bloomberg predicted in June 2016 that the cost of solar will continue to decrease to a point where it is the cheapest potential source of new energy build. “Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation … of the world’s power systems. By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6TW of new power generating capacity added worldwide over the next 25 years, and for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested.”
At the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions, we are engaged with regulators and government officials at local, state, and federal levels throughout the U.S. to support the continued development and adoption of renewable energy. We also serve as a resource for providers of electricity service, REC products, and carbon offsets. We also offer 3rd party certification of these products through Green-e, and support our participants’ success in their markets.
Chip Wood is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Center for Resource Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to creating policy and market solutions to advance sustainable energy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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